Briggs & Stratton: How Engine Production Began

Learn how Briggs & Stratton Co., the largest producer of small gas engines, got its start

| March/April 1992

  • Frank Lavinio's early 1920s Briggs & Stratton scooter
    Frank Lavinio's early 1920s Briggs & Stratton scooter.
  • Jim Altman's 1920 Briggs & Stratton Motor Wheel
    Jim Altman's 1920 Briggs & Stratton Motor Wheel.
  • Jim Altman's 1916 Smith Motor Wheel.
    Jim Altman's 1916 Smith Motor Wheel.
  • Joey and Chevelle Tackett (children of the author) on a 1916 A. O. Smith Flyer with an A. O. Smith Motor wheel
    Joey and Chevelle Tackett (children of the author) on a 1916 A. O. Smith Flyer with an A. O. Smith Motor wheel owned by Dennis Tackett. that Mr.

  • Frank Lavinio's early 1920s Briggs & Stratton scooter
  • Jim Altman's 1920 Briggs & Stratton Motor Wheel
  • Jim Altman's 1916 Smith Motor Wheel.
  • Joey and Chevelle Tackett (children of the author) on a 1916 A. O. Smith Flyer with an A. O. Smith Motor wheel

Briggs & Stratton small gas engines, seemingly, meet the power needs of the world. Briggs & Stratton Corporation is the world's largest producer of small, stationary, air-cooled, gasoline engines. What follows is brief history of how it all began.

Mr. Juneau, who was a coach at South Dakota State College, introduced Stephen Foster Briggs, an engineering student from South Dakota College, to Harold Mead Stratton, a successful grain merchant with entrepreneurial ambitions.

Mr. Juneau was well aware of the outstanding engineering talents of Mr. Briggs. Mr. Briggs had developed a 6-cylinder, two stroke gas engine while attending South Dakota State. Mr. Briggs hoped to produce his gas engine in order to enter the expanding automobile industry. Mr. Juneau felt that Stratton (who owned a farm next to his) and Briggs might make a good team.

The combination, which emerged from this initial meeting, operated as a partnership. The first location of the Briggs & Stratton Co. was a rented space in a building located in the old Third Ward of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Briggs & Stratton incorporated as the Briggs & Stratton Company on April 16, 1909, in the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.



The first project of this new partnership was Mr. Briggs' gas engine. This six cylinder engine was too costly to produce. It was short lived.

The second project of Briggs & Stratton Co. was an automobile. Briggs & Stratton produced three cars, two touring cars and one roadster. The cars were produced from components, which were supplied by outsiders. These cars were produced under the name of "Superior." Unfortunately, the car was also too costly to produce.



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